Archive for February, 2012

Unicef Working Against International Adoptions

February 20th, 2012

A version of the article below was first printed as an editorial in the Paducah Sun in November, 2011.


Don’t trick or treat for UNICEF this year.  UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is tricking us into believing they advocate for the welfare of children worldwide, but in reality they are treating the children as pawns in a battle for ethnic purity and nationalism.  If you donate money to UNICEF, you are contributing to an organization that is working to stop international adoptions.

When the Matheny family boarded American Airlines en route to Burkina Faso to pick up their adopted child, the airline played a promotional video for UNICEF.  The touching images and script convinced the Mathenys and other passengers to donate when the bucket was passed around the plane.  To their dismay, they later found out they had contributed to an organization that is working to stop international adoptions.

UNICEF has done admirable work in the past to improve the lives of poor children in war-torn or undeveloped countries.  They have dispensed vaccines, promoted breastfeeding, provided emergency food supplies, endorsed education for girls, and much more.  All this serves to make their opposition to international adoption mystifying for those of us who promote adoption and care passionately about the welfare of all children.  But it also makes their influence more dangerous because the public may put blind trust in such an organization and assume the officials will only work in the best interests of children.

The best interests of children, however, are taking a back seat to the best interests of nationalist ideology.  UNICEF has apparently embraced the philosophy of anti-adoption forces who believe that children should not be removed from their country and culture.  These forces believe that international adoption denies the children their heritage and their right to be raised in kinship groups. They believe that children should remain in their native country in orphanages, foster homes, or native adoptive homes.

Most people will agree that a native adoptive home is ideal; however, it is just not a practical reality in many poor nations.  Ethiopia, for instance, has 5 million orphans, and part of the country is in a famine.  How realistic is it to count on those 5 million kids being adopted by other Ethiopian families? Foster care is also not a realistic option in many developing nations. Besides, we know from our own American experience that foster care has its own set of difficulties and is still not as good as a permanent family.  And an orphanage, at best, is still an institution.  Institutions don’t raise children as well as families do.  So child welfare advocates should be working toward placing children in adoptive homes, regardless of the culture.

Not UNICEF.  UNICEF’s official statement does not blatantly oppose international, or inter-country, adoptions.  This quote, taken from “Unicef’s position on Inter-country adoption,” conveys their halfhearted endorsement: “Inter-country adoption is among the range of stable care options.  For individual children who cannot be cared for in a family setting in their country of origin, inter-country adoption may be the best permanent solution.” Even though UNICEF is not officially antagonistic toward international adoption, their policies make it very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to adopt from other countries. Consider Haiti, for example.  Current UNICEF policies require birth records for all children being adopted internationally, but most birth records in Haiti were destroyed by the earthquake.  Since most Haitians are not in an economic position to adopt, these children are consigned to live out their lives in orphanages, if not in a refugee camp.

What is my vested interest?  I have a potential daughter in Ethiopia.  We were well on the way to bringing her home by Christmas when UNICEF-funded officials removed her and 37 other children from the orphanage where she lived. They took them back to their native region to try to find homes for them there. My “daughter” is between 9-11 years of age and no one has wanted her yet.  Why try to find a family for her when she already has one waiting for her?  UNICEF is also subsidizing the native families who choose to take one of these children.  This in itself is troubling.  Where is the guarantee that some of these families won’t take the children just to get the money?  While UNICEF’s motives may be good in some respects, the implementation of their idealism has heartbreaking consequences for many children.

We need to hold UNICEF accountable for what they claim to be:  an organization that advocates for the best interests of all children.  It is in the best interest of homeless children to be adopted by families that want them, regardless of what country they live in.  Color and nationality are not as important as love and family. You would think UNICEF would know that.

Another Miscarriage

February 20th, 2012

I wrote this on September 23, 2011, but didn’t want to post it then, so I’m posting it now.


I am grieving today.  I’ve been crying off and on since yesterday at noon.  Our adoption agency called with bad news.  The girl we are trying to adopt, the girl we already love and pray for daily, has been taken away.  There are some anti-adoption forces in Ethiopia and other developing countries who are trying to prevent children from being adopted and leaving the country.  They came to our orphanage in Addis Ababa and took 30 children last week, our sweet girl among them.  I can’t even write about it without crying.  They’ve been taken somewhere in the south of  Ethiopia to try to find places for them there.  If they can find family willing to take them in, they will pay them a stipend.  If they can’t find a home for them, they will place them in a different orphanage somewhere in the South.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why they would take children who have waiting families when there are so many who don’t.  And why would they take them from a good orphanage where they have food and a good director who obviously loves them?  And why take them to the South, where there’s a famine and they can’t even feed their own people there?

I know some people don’t understand why I would grieve over a child I’ve never even met, so I’ll explain.

1) It’s like a miscarriage (I’ve already had two). You are attached to and love this child even though you’ve never held or met the child.

2) I’m so heartbroken thinking about what she is feeling.  She had already experienced the loss of her parents — she’s an orphan — and the disruption of being put in an orphanage, and now they’re taking her to another orphanage?  She was already attached to the director and caretakers and children in Addis.  Why tear her away from that?

3) Who’s taking care of the kids in this transition?  Are they just terrified?  Our girl is the only older girl in the group.  Is she able to comfort and play mother to all these little kids who are surely holding on to her?

That’s just a start.


So now we pray with faith that God will bring her to us anyway.  He can do that.